Fitness for Beginners
When The Bae Blogs was born, I thought of giving my blog posts a makeover and so I started coming up with blog series that I could follow to make sure I was on schedule with blogging and to prevent having setbacks or backlogs. One of the blog series I thought of writing was Fitness Friday. Obviously, every Friday, I’d post anything related to fitness – be it one of my exercise routines, a fitness discovery, a funny anecdote in the gym or anything that relates to working out, dieting, and whatnot, but mostly it leaning on the fitness side.
However, I thought it would be ironic for me to do so since I no longer workout as much as I used to. I wrote a blog post, “The Bae Blogs: The Making“, and openly asked what my readers would like to read more from my blog. Corinth of Explore with Corinth said she would like to read more about health and fitness stuff, and a few weeks after, Rae of Scatterbraintures left a comment on one of my photos on Instagram and said the same thing. We even exchanged a few messages with each other and ever since I couldn’t stop thinking about how to do a beginner’s workout blog post.
Honestly, it took me a long time to finally write this because I didn’t want to feed just fluff to my readers or in case someone who’s searching for the same topic comes across my blog post. I want this to be helpful as much as possible. I know I’m Christian by heart, but with fitness, I try to stick to science.
(This post is a bit lengthy. You might want to save it in your bookmark or use Pocket to read later!)
I like working out, it gives me a sense of peace somehow, it’s my way of de-stressing, and I like how I am able to do so much more and think so much clearer when my body is in shape and I can walk up the stairs without heaving, but to be frank, I’m not expert in this field and I know I have so much to learn. But what little I know, I’m willing to share with you guys since I know we can use more knowledge when it comes to taking care of our bodies.
I’m leaving you my cardinal rules with working out and a workout for beginners, which I think anyone can do no matter what his goal is.
MY 5 CARDINAL FITNESS RULES:
- Find a workout routine that you love doing. If something feels like too much of a chore, you won’t enjoy it. It’s like doing a crappy job that you don’t like but got stuck with for some reason. The same principle applies to working out. No matter how effective it is for other people, no matter how many calories it burns faster than other workouts, if it’s not for you, you will never have that feeling of satisfaction. Find something that works for you and stick to it. The more you enjoy what you’re doing, the more you’ll do it. Working out should not feel like work, to be honest.
- Always remember “why”. When we say we want to be fitter, I’m pretty sure that goal is not valid for only a month and after that, you can be weak and easily tire again. The point is to work out as much as you can when you’re young so you can still be strong and fit as you age. With that, it’s important to stick to your goal and always remind yourself of it. Without a sound goal, you won’t get anywhere because you just keep slipping away from your permanent plans for temporary pleasures, so there’s no checklist that actually helps you keep track of your progress or lack thereof. Goal setting is important, people!
- Make a S.M.A.R.T. fitness plan.We’ve all heard of S.M.A.R.T. Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Stop trying to look like Beyoncé if you’re short-legged or Sofia Vergara if you have small hips. Your body type is unique from everyone else and obviously, it’s more realistic to fit your body type to a fitness goal than to find a goal and force it to fit with the type of body you have, even if it won’t really work on your end. Having a S.M.A.R.T. plan means to choose a specific fitness goal, make a reasonable timeline to help you celebrate small achievements or milestones and to help you stay on track, and perform the necessary steps to achieve whatever goal you have.
- Don’t eat less, eat better. I’ll be frank with this one. It’s so sickening to see so many girls starving themselves for that thigh gap and skinny arms. Honey, being a size zero doesn’t make you healthy, fit, or beautiful. Starving yourself and restricting your body with a few crackers and a bottle of iced tea (to treat yourself) is just but a slow and sure way to kill yourself emotionally, mentally, and physically. Eat according to your fitness plan because you need to feed your body with nutrients to keep you moving. Not eating enough and working out rigorously will more likely help you put on more pounds than actually lose them. When you work out with an empty stomach, you feel nauseous, hungry, and weak. You won’t get those reps and sets you were aiming for and you’d more likely cut your workout short. When we’re not in the right condition, we become vulnerable. As KitKat said, you’re not you when you’re hungry. Chances are, you will end up eating bigger portions and calorie-packed foods to satisfy your urge. Of course, it’s natural for you to crave for some sweets, too, since it gives us that certain “high” and a good amount of serotonin, commonly known as the happiness hormones. Scientifically speaking, you need body fuel to help you burn energy to workout, and what you burn, you need to replenish with food. It’s simple science.
- Accept your body for what it is. Most of us decide to live a healthy and fit life, mostly on a whim, because we hate how we look. When we are worked up about something, we tend to unleash so much energy that our work becomes effective, but necessarily achieving any. When you do something out of love, you feel more capable, stronger, and determined. You won’t get easily swayed because of what others think about your body or what you think about your body. When you accept your body for what it is and what it can do, you will find yourself being able to do more and eventually you will want to learn more and, therefore, challenge yourself and go beyond what you thought you only could when you looked down on yourself and didn’t appreciate what you’re actually capable of. Let me tell you that what the mind believes, the body achieves. Your body is stronger than you think, it’s your mind that you have to convince.
Now that we are armed with basic rules we need to stick to before and during our fitness journey, what are some essential exercises everybody should do? I researched about this, but I’m also applying my reasons why these exercises are important from a personal view.
When we say fit, we mean having a healthy heart and being able to do those everyday activities without difficulty, like walking up and down the stairs, walking 25,000 feet on a minimum, lifting heavy objects, etc. In short, it’s about being physically fit.
In order to be in that condition, you need to keep working out and keep your heart pumping. Most beginners would try to keep their workout short and easy, sometimes too easy. But I believe that if you haven’t worked out a day in your life or it’s been a while since you put on your trainers, it should be harder for you to start all over again, but it doesn’t mean you’re excused from being tired and you can avoid panting at all costs. Sure, working out shouldn’t feel dragging, but being drained is and always will be a part of it.
KEEPING YOUR HEART HAPPY
If you want that healthy heart that will keep you alive for years to come, you need to do that one that most of us hate doing – cardio. What is so boring/intimidating about cardio anyway? Why do we hate it so much? I know why. Because it takes little effort to pant like crazy and panting is a sign that we are tired. And admit it, feeling tired, or thinking that we are is kind of uncomfortable. But the more you move around, the more your muscles are active, and the more they are capable when you need them the most. You don’t workout today to lift something heavy tomorrow. You workout today onwards so your body is active and alert anytime of the day. It’s the whole point.
The quickest way to keep your heart pumping hard and you panting is to do (1) jumping jacks, (2) burpees. I know, they’re not that fun but nothing worth it comes easy, right? Even good health. Other options are, of course, running, swimming, dancing, and kick/boxing. Actually, it’s not limited to those exercises. Whatever you want to do, do you, boo. These are just basic exercises you can do if you don’t want to stick with running because, to be honest, running is not the only cardio out there.
FATS, WHERE YOU AT?
Have you ever wondered where the calories you burn go to? You workout like crazy and think that the more you sweat, the more fats you lose, the more you shrink. While that can also be true in some circumstances, the majority of what you lose from your weight is from exhaling fat. Huh? Those panting, heaving, breathing heavy, and wanting to chug a gallon of water after 10 minutes of cardio, that’s actually your fat burning. In other words, you exhale energy in the form of carbon dioxide, which then turns into thin air. Yes, pretty cool. In short, the more you pant and the more your heart pumps wild, the more you lose fats. So what should you do, exactly? Well, I can suggest one easy but equally hard way. HIIT or high-intensity interval training.
What is HIIT and what are some exercises of it, you say? From the acronym itself, this workout is usually made of compound exercises that hit different muscles at the same time and are high-intensity thus do not take up a lot of time, unlike lifting (we’ll discuss this further later on) where you focus on your *reps and *sets and is not solely time-based.
In layman’s term, HIIT involves a little bit of cardio and a little bit of strength training (lifting). Example?
- 2 minutes brisk walking
- 2 minutes jog
- 1 minute run
- 2 minutes brisk walk
- 2 mins jog
- 1 minute uphill sprint
If you can notice, you can finish that exercise in 10 minutes. It requires little time but a lot of effort because the point is to raise your heart rate in the fastest way possible. It’s not called high intensity for nothing.
If you need more convincing, read this excerpt from bodybuilding.com:
HIIT is considered to be much more effective than normal cardio because the intensity is higher and you are able to increase both your aerobic and anaerobic endurance while burning more fat than ever before.
“In research, HIIT has been shown to burn adipose tissue more effectively than low-intensity exercise – up to 50% more efficiently.” It has also been shown to speed up your metabolism which helps you burn more calories throughout the day. (www.musclemedia.com)
Other examples of HIIT are box jumps, burpees, tire flips, sprints, and those other strenuous activities you’d rather not to. HIIT will help you raise your heart rate and make you stronger within a short span of time. Through HIIT, you can also burn more fats even AFTER you workout, unlike when you do cardio and burn fats only DURING the exercise.
WORK THEM LEGS
A lot of us pant like crazy when we go up three flights of stairs. I get it, I’m still the same way sometimes. And getting on the bus can also be a struggle. What about long walks? I bet you sometimes just want to sit because your calves are hurting already.
I personally believe that for your to be fit, you’ll need strong legs. We’re not talking about leanness here, but fitness, like being able to do normal daily activities without difficulty. You use your legs every day, they take you places and help you balance your upper and lower body. You owe it to your legs to take care of them and keep them as fit as you can.
So what exercises do I suggest? The basics: squats, lunges, deadlifts.
Before you start thinking that you can’t do any of those or they’re too tiring, let me remind you that everything starts small and, with lifting, we begin with light weights. As a rule of thumb, you don’t lift heavier unless you surpass the minimum weight, which depends on your own body weight. Why am I saying this? When you use weights while you work out, the more effort you exert and the more fats you burn. When you’re doing close to nothing, it will also result to close to nothing. You are the totality of the training you perform. It’s not a must to have weights while you perform those basic exercises, but it will definitely give you faster progress.
Squats help you work on your quads (thighs), glutes (butt), and core (stomach). If you’re not comfortable with a barbell over your shoulder, opt for a PVC pipe or a light metal. If you have a barbell at home, that would also do, just ditch the plates. You can also use a kettlebell. Turn it upside down so the ball is at the bottom and the handle is at the top. Make sure your back is straight and you’re squatting like you’re taking a dump, no matter how gross it sounds, it works. Haha! Don’t forget to clench your glutes while going up and rely on your quads for strength. I always mess up my squats and my lower back end up hurting. Kids, don’t follow this bad habit. If you want to do free weights, you can just squat with no equipment but make sure your form is good!
To give you an idea, I squat with a 40-lb. barbell when I’m tired, 60-lbs. when I have enough energy. For kettlebell, I use 20 pounds, if I’m not mistaken.
I’ll be completely honest, I hate performing lunges, but it really helps tone your legs and make them stronger. It hurts my things like hell, but if you don’t feel like crap after you workout, then it’s safe to say you didn’t workout hard enough. Nothing worth having comes easy, baby. You’ve got to work for it if you want it enough.
Many people make the mistake of bending their knees past their toes. Right now, I’m telling you, you’re doing it wrong. When you do this, it’s like, you’re just stretching, you’re not putting your weight on your quads, which you’re supposed to. You can do this with no weights (hands on hips) or opt for 10 pounds in each arm and just let them hand on your sides.
Ahh, deadlifts, my favorite. Seriously, this exercise is the bomb. You can trust this to tone your arms, lower back, and legs, all in one go. Some people round their back when they perform deadlifts, but this is actually dangerous because you might damage your back and when you’re lifting too heavy, you can topple forward, trip on the barbell, and dive down on the floor face first. This is both hurtful and humiliating, trust me. I’ve never been there but I can imagine it. Can’t you?
Anyway, when performing deadlifts, make sure your back is straight, not arched, and you’re getting your strength from your legs, specifically from your quads and hamstrings (back of quads). The lowest you can start with is 10 pounds. It’s not really much and if it’s heavy for you, it’s heavy enough. If you lift too light, you’re not really doing anything. You can also opt for a kettlebell or dumbbells (hold it parallel to the floor and grip both ends).
Other legs exercises
- Leg extensions
- Leg presses
- Calf raises
MUNCHES FOR THE MOUTH, CRUNCHES FOR THE CORE
Lastly, I believe in the power of core. Abs is just a bonus, the strength you get from performing abs exercise is the reward in itself. But to be honest, you don’t really need to focus on your abs to get abs. Complex exercises like squats help you strengthen your core because you’re also borrowing power from it as you squat. I don’t normally do abs exercises, but when I do, it’s because I want to feel the burn. I like working on my core just because you can feel the burn immediately and it takes 15 minutes and you’re good.
Since I went to Cutz Fit Training Zone, I fell in love with their abs exercises because they’re really effective and within days of going there (will discuss this in a different blog post), I immediately started seeing results, no joke. What’s nice about Cutz Fit is it focuses on HIIT and core exercises.
Here are a few of my favorite abs exercises:
- Planks (50-60 seconds)
- Spider push-ups (5 reps per side)
- Lizard walk (10-12-14)
- Leg raises (10-12-14)
So let’s have a recap. We talked about the importance of being active (cardio), of strengthening our bodies (HIIT), of having balance (legs), and of maintaining strength in our core (abs). Again, these are all according to my personal perceptions, with a dash of science. You can always google some more fitness facts if you’re not satisfied with my blog post. Anyway, this is only for beginners. I specified some exercises because they have worked for me when I was starting out, which you can read about here, here, here, and here. These are but a few links to my many fitness blog posts/workout journal. If you visit my Tumblr account, you will find a lot of fitness-related posts there because that’s where I started and that’s where I made my first women crushes. LOL.
I hope this blog post helped you even for a bit or, at least, cleared the air about some of your fitness questions. If you have any more to ask, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below, in any of my social media platforms or via email: email@example.com.
*repetitions: a training exercise which is repeated, especially a series of repeated raisings and lowerings of the weight in weight training. lie on your back and bench-press a light weight very quickly over ten repetitions.
*sets: the number of cycles of reps that you complete.